Edward Snowden Discussion

Locate an article that discusses the actions and prosecution of Edward Snowden. In your initial post, provide a link to the article and answer the following questions:

  • What source of law controls Snowden’s prosecution? Explain your answer.
  • Can Snowden be charged and arrested by a state law-enforcement officer? Can he be prosecuted in a state court? Why or why not?
  • Do Snowden’s actions violate substantive and/or moral laws? Explain your answer.
  • What goals/purposes of the criminal justice system justify criminal action against Snowden?
  • Why?

Review the posts of your fellow learners and respond to at least two. What factors do you think may influence these different assessments of the Snowden case? In your response posts, you must do one or more of the following:

  • Ask an analytical question.
  • Offer a suggestion.
  • Elaborate on a particular point.
  • Provide an alternative opinion supported with research.

Be sure to support your initial post and follow-up posts with scholarly examples from the module readings and additional literature where appropriate. You must cite all references according to APA style.



The source of law that controls Edward Snowden’s prosecution is the criminal law found in the statutes of the federal government. His charges of theft, “unauthorized communication of national defense information” and “willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person” are crimes that break laws under federal jurisdiction. Furthermore, because these charges fall under federal jurisdiction, the responsibility to enforce the laws broken by Snowden should be that of the federal government, and Snowden should be prosecuted in a federal court as opposed to a state court. That said, there is an argument to be made that supports Snowden being tried in the court of the state in which he committed the relevant crimes.

Despite these charges from US federal prosecutors, Snowden’s actions are viewed by many as not being crimes at all, but instead acts of public service to people of the US and the world, and that Snowden did not violate substantive or moral laws. The textbook defines substantive criminal law as a branch of public law that establishes the standards necessary to preserve public order a protect property rights. Because Snowden was charged of and admitted to the theft of countless confidential government documents, he technically is in violation of substantive laws. However, the textbook adds that substantive criminal law “seeks to protect the right of individual privacy and the right to move about freely without fear of molestation”(6). According to the documents released by Snowden, the NSA was invading the privacy of millions of American citizens, with roughly 90% of them being ordinary and innocent civilians. With this in mind we can argue Snowden did not necessarily violate moral law, which attempts to perfect personal character, as he was doing what he genuinely believed to be in the collective interest of the American people and the people of the world.

Despite this, the goals and purposes of the criminal justice system seem to justify criminal action against Snowden, specifically the goals to “discourage and deter people from committing crimes” and “punish people who have committed crimes” (9). Whether or not Snowden was in violation of moral law, he objectively broke laws by illegally stealing confidential information


Hello class,
I have done a lot of research for this discussion because it just fascinates me on so many levels. Snowden leaked thousands of documents some I believe we should have been made aware of but at the same time within these documents were other vast documents that could also harm us, I believe it was a double edge sword and I do not condone his actions to an extent. He violated several laws when he leaked these documents which caused more harm than good and more than just we know about because the extent of the documents, aside from surveillance, was not disclosed even now but you can see the impact that it has had. The government is saying that he violated The Espionage Act of 1917 “prohibited obtaining information, recording pictures, or copying descriptions of any information relating to the national defense with intent or reason to believe that the information may be used for the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.” (Asp, n.d.) he violated the act when he published and copied the materials over the internet to everyone. While this may be true I believe that the government has also been violating our constitutional rights as well and until we actually look into the agencies and what they have been doing that violates our rights and constitutional rights than can we look to see what charges should actually be brought upon Snowden. I believe that one of our rights that the government violated is being “a secret court order was allowing the U.S. government to get Verizon to share the phone records of millions of Americans.” (Riechmann, 2018) is one that we should have known about because I believe it does violate one of our constitutional rights, however, he did violate the Espionage Act because “According to Melstad, Snowden-disclosed documents have put U.S. personnel or facilities at risk around the world, damaged intelligence collection efforts, exposed tools used to amass intelligence, destabilized U.S. partnerships abroad and exposed U.S. intelligence operations, capabilities and priorities.” (Riechmann, 2018)
Can Snowden be charged and arrested by a state law-enforcement officer? Can he be prosecuted in a state court? The answer is yet to both but, he can not be arrested, charged, or prosecuted as of yet because he has asylum in Russia at the moment and Russia believes that what he did was justified as well as so many others. Do Snowden’s actions violate substantive and/or moral laws? Substantive law is “defines the standards of conduct that the society and the community require for the protection of the community as a whole. It establishes the standards necessary to preserve public order and to protect property rights. It seeks to protect the right of individual privacy and the right to move about freely without fear of molestation.” (Gardner, & Anderson, 2016) I believe that Snowden did not violate this law but enforced this law. Did he violate moral laws I believe he did to an extent yes, we should have been made aware of some of the activities that were going on at the same time he put others that did not know at risk that is either undercover for the good of our nation or our people and morally that was wrong for him to put their lives in danger even if he was doing the right thing by making public the wrongdoings that were going on.